The Politics of “Paranormal” Presence

What’s going on at a haunted location? There is no definite answer (yet), and it therefore cannot be answered in only way (“paranormal”)! So, the questions become: how do we take photographs of all that? how do we make a video? what do we measure, etc. The issue is clear: what is the definitive record or representation of something that is the past, an historical event, and a “dead” entity?

Documentation is about empowering. It is about opening (slightly) the door, and “playing” to the performances: remixing, reworking the processes of immersion and engagement. This means a change is “blowing in the wind”, uncovering the site of excavation. The ritual formula of tech sweep, monitor, EVP sessions, watch and wait, a prolonged audio/video review, and “the reveal” is “dead”! Ghost research, in the form of this excavating “wind”, involves participatory acts, observations, and targeted performances which must replace the old field routines.

There are many ghosts lurking unseen that will take generations and multiple excavations of inventive social science to understand a site’s complex haunted scenarios. A “politics of presence” (the title of one of my books) is what is made present and what is kept absent and invisible by contemporary ghost hunting! This “politics” is a crucial issue and determines what we are able to recall, to document, to trace, to measure, and also what should be documented, traced, and measured, and not kept invisible!

It’s about power over the processes of mediation. It’s a critical concern. So much has already be destroyed, concealed, or forgotten. It’s the “politics” that write the history and tell the ghost stories. It is “who” is altering our conception of ghost research! It is not the “what” of a haunted location, nor the “ghosts” that haunt the present. It is the “who”, the contemporary, tech-oriented, “ghost hunter” that is haunting the Past!